Tag Archives: Memphis Grizzlies

Western Conference Power Rankings

 

How Many Golden State Warriors Deserve a Spot on the West NBA All-Star Team?

Tony Gutierrez- Associated Press

   We enter the final stretch of the NBA regular season as teams begin to jock for playoff positioning. With the trade deadline behind us, teams have bolster their rosters for a championship run while others decided to stand pact and put their trust into what has gotten them thus far. Here’s a look at the top five teams of power rankings beginning with the Western Conference.

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1. Golden State Warriors

     As the Western Conference has become the king of the hill, the Golden State Warriors are at the top looking down at those coming got their position. The depth of Golden State’s bench will continue to play a role with the foot issues of Stephen Curry going forward into the postseason.

 

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2.  Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a force to be reckoned with behind the leadership and play of All-Star MVP Russell Westbrook while Kevin Durant continues to battle foot injuries. In his last 10 games, he has averaged a staggering 29.5 points, 8 rebounds, 10.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game, putting him in the MVP conversation amongst the elite. OKC has also improve the team by acquiring players Enes Kanter and DJ Augustin that has made them a contender to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

 

Spruce Derden

3. Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies have picked up where they left off before the All-Star break going 6-2 in the month of February thus far. Defeating Portland Trailblazers and Los Angeles Clippers on back to back nights on the road should put the Western Conference on notice that they are forming into midseason form. The addition of Jeff Green adds to the bigs of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and point guard Mike Conley, who may be the most underrated player in the league, makes the Grizzlies a tough out come playoffs.

 

The Case for DeAndre Jordan as the NBA's Most Underappreciated Player

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4. Los Angeles Clippers

Despite the elbow injury to Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers have not lost a step going 4-2 without him behind the point guard play of Chris Paul and the unsung hero of DeAndre Jordan. Since Griffin being sidelined, Jordan has continued to be a defensive presence and a focal point on offense averaging 16.6 points, 17.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. However, the Clippers have a void to fill  that will make them a championship caliber team.

 

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5. Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets continue to be amongst the elite teams in the West without the assistance of Dwight Howard, giving MVP candidate James Harden more responsibility to consume for them to succeed. While Harden is more than capable of leaving a team into the postseason, the one man band will not go far into the playoffs without the veteran leadership & role players contributing at a high level.

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Center of Attention: Top 10 NBA Centers

 

In today’s NBA, the center position has lost its significance as it has became diluted and heavy guard play in the association. The league lacks a true dominance at the center position and no consistent play unlike Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, or Patrick Ewing. The prerogative of a big man on majority teams is to set screens and rebound as opposed to being a focal point on the low block in an offense. Let’s appreciate the elite big men in the league as we take a look at the top 10 centers in the NBA right now.

 

 

 

10. Nikola Vucevic

While the Orlando Magic continue to improve for the future, an important piece to their puzzle of success is Nikola Vucevic. During his third season, his offensive productivity has elevated as he is averaging a career high in points at 14 points per game while grabbing 10.8 rebounds. The former USC Trojan can become a focal point for this Orlando franchise with the talents surrounding him in Aaron Afflalo, Tobias Harris, and Victor Oladipo. For a player of his size and stature, the key to Vucevic taking that next step involves becoming more of a defensive side of the ball. Orlando will contemplate on opening their check books to retain him as he awaits free agency.

 

 

9. Andre Drummond

     Andre Drummond has grasped the attention of many around the league with his athletic abilities for the Detroit Pistons. Becoming a starter this season, he has been able to show us his capability as a center, averaging a double double at 13.2 ppg and 12.9 rpg. His ability to score without plays being called for him is an asset while scoring off second chance points. As he continues to improve his overall game, Drummond can become a franchise player where Detroit can build around him.  His growth as a player may slow down if the Pistons do not fix the logjam in the frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Josh Smith.

 

 

 

8. DeAndre Jordan

This season has been a turnaround for Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Due to the change at coach with Doc Rivers taking over, he has been playing the best basketball of his five year stint in Los Angeles becoming a strong candidate for Most Improved Player of the year. Averaging career high numbers in points, rebounds, and blocks, he must sustain his overall play for the Clippers in order to reach championship aspirations. While Jordan continues to improve his free throws and post moves, his athleticism has allowed him to become a defensive anchor.

 

 

 

7. Marc Gasol

The current reigning Defensive Player of the Year has had a difficult season with knee injuries. However, Marc Gasol is the best player for the Memphis Grizzlies when healthy as he is a focal point on both sides of the ball.  Since his return to the team, the Grizzlies have been playing +.500 basketball as they make a late regular season push towards the NBA Playoffs. Memphis will not reach the postseason without their man in the middle performing at a high level.

 

 

 

6. Roy Hibbert

The Indiana Pacers success begins with their productivity on defense that starts with the 7 footer in Roy Hibbert. The former Georgetown Hoya has not lived up to expectations with the max contract deal he signed in 2012 worth $58 million dollars. He is inconsistent and does not rebound well for his size. Nevertheless, his role for head coach Frank Vogel does not undermine his value to the Pacers as he is the last line of defense to the rim. Hibbert allows Indiana’s perimeter defenders to become more aggressive. When called upon, Hibbert can have an offensive post presence. His post moves allows the Pacers to slow the game down in the postseason.

 

 

 

5. DeMarcus Cousins

As the Sacramento Kings continue to find ways to improve its team, the centerpiece for their franchise is DeMarcus Cousins. Averaging career highs in points and rebounds, Cousins is having his best season as many considered him an All-Star snub. His downfall continues to be his lack of maturity in his fourth season in the NBA. Many remain skeptical if he is the player to build around due to his antics that were recently on display against the Houston Rockets which resulted in an one game suspension. Cousins talent is not the question, rather his leadership skills and intangibles are.

 

4. Dwight Howard

     The Houston Rockets are beginning to peak at the right time of the season on the eve of playoffs. The answer? Dwight Howard. Although his stats from his previous season in Los Angeles (17.1 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg) mirror this season’s (18.9 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg), Howard is playing in a comfortable role in Houston with the arsenal of James Harden and Chandler Parsons surrounding him while being an eminent force on the defensive side of the ball.

 

3. Chris Bosh

You can make the argument that Chris Bosh is the Miami Heat’s second most valuable player to their team this season. Being undersized at the center position, he is able to pose as a threat to the opponents center due to his talents on offense and defense. Becoming more efficient behind the arc has also helped spread the floor in Miami for Lebron James. Although he is not averaging staggering stats at 16.9 ppg and 6.8 rpg, he has shown the ability to step up in clutch situations when his number is called. It is difficult seeing Bosh leave Miami under any circumstances as he has the option of becoming a free agent this summer. However, his worth may increase as the season progresses.

 

 

2. Joakim Noah

      The storyline remains the same for the Chicago Bulls as Derrick Rose ends his short season with yet another knee injury. However, the Bulls continue to find success with the help of All-Star center Joakim Noah. A strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, he has elevated his role on the offensive end  as he averages a career high in points and assists along with two triple doubles this season. Noah’s leadership and dominance has became contagious to his teammates that may lead to a spot on the All-NBA team. With the postseason in reach, Noah will relish the opportunity in leading his team with the possibility of taking down the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers.

 

1. Al Jefferson

The center who is most effective for his team this season, thus far, has been Al Jefferson for the Charlotte Bobcats. As the Bobcats are fighting for playoff position, the catalyst has been the man in the middle who is arguably the most underappreciated player in the NBA. Averaging a double double with 20.5 ppg and 10.4 rpg, the offseason acquisition has helped turn Charlotte in the right direction of success going towards the future. Jefferson is a load to handle on offense as he score inside and outside the paint. With limited exposure nationally, the playoffs should help Jefferson and the Bobcats gain respect going forward.

Top 10 NBA Draft Busts of the Decade (2000-2010)

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     We have seen NBA Drafts where general managers and player personnel have the fate of the franchise futures in their hands with lottery picks. Every player selected in the top half of the draft is going to be a superstar. However, you are held to a higher standard than other players when your name is called upon on by the commissioner. You will see players who were once “can’t miss” prospects to “where are they now?” players. Here are your top 10 NBA Draft Busts we have recently seen.

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10. Marvin Williams- No. 2 pick in 2005 NBA Draft

Marvin Williams has never been able to live up to his lofty expectations as a NBA player. Coming into the 2005 NBA Draft, he averaged 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as a freshman standout for the North Carolina Tar Heels. Many scouts believed Williams offensive potential would increase. After 8 seasons in the league, his game has remained grounded.

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 9. Sebastian Telfair- No. 13 pick 2004 NBA Draft

Sebastian Telfair’s greatest highlight reel was the documentary of his high school senior season with “Through the Fire”. With endorsements from Jay-Z and many supporters, he never was the player he was expected to become in the association. Telfair was one of the best point guards to come out of the historic Lincoln High School in New York where he drew comparisons to his cousin Stephon Marbury. Telfair has averaged 7.6 points while handing out 3.8 assists finding himself on many teams in a short span.

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8. Eddie Griffin- No. 7 pick 2001 NBA Draft

The former Seton Hall standout had sky-high expectations to become a special player in the NBA. Eddie Griffin draft status had dropped where he was taken 7th overall by the New Jersey Nets and suddenly traded to the Houston Rockets for the draft rights of Brandon Armstrong, Jason Collins, and Richard Jefferson. Griffin’s career was cut short due to alcohol then later lost his life in a car crash. May his soul rest in peace.

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7. Eddy Curry- No. 4 pick 2004 NBA Draft

A lot of promise and potential was shown in Curry with his size at 7’0 295 pounds. His career did not pan out as well as many people believed it could have. With career averages of 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest, many would consider him a bust with how early he was taken. It all started to go downhill when major injuries from 2008-2010 kept him sidelined, only playing a total of 10 games.

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6. Stromile Swift- No. 2 pick 2000 NBA Draft

Stromile Swift had high hopes coming in to the then Vancouver Grizzlies organization in 2000. The 6’10 big from LSU was anything but outstanding, averaging 11.8 points and 6.3 rebounds which would turn out to be his best stats in his 9 season stint in the league. Swift was out of the NBA after playing a total of 19 games with the Phoenix Suns and New Jersey Nets.

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5. Nikoloz Tskitishvili- No.5 2002 NBA Draft

Can you name this guy (without looking above)? Better yet, can you pronounce his name? I don’t blame you. Nikoloz Tskitishvili had a brief stint in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors making his exit out by 2006. Tskitishvili, 7’0″ 225 pounds best career average came during his rookie season with 3.9 points per game. He would go back to Russia where he would continue to play professionally.

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4. Darko Milicic- No.2 2003 NBA Draft

Darko Milicic is considered to be one of the worst draft picks to be selected in NBA history, being drafted ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. In his first three seasons in Detroit, the big man from Montenegro averaged 5, 6, and 7 minutes on the floor where he was able to produce 1.4, 1.8, and 1.5 points a game. His best season was in Minnesota where he produced 8.8 points along with 5.2 rebounds per contest in 24 minutes. Milicic is currently out of the NBA where many Pistons fans are filled with overjoy.

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3. Kwame Brown- No. 1 2001 NBA Draft

Kwame Brown is arguably the worst pick of the decade and might go down as the worst pick of the century. Hand picked by Michael Jordan himself, only averaged double figures once in his career with 10.9 points per game. Brown was a detriment to his team as he could not finish around the hoop, could not rebound nor play defense. After recently being released by the Philadelphia 76ers, many became skeptical of how he remained in the league for 13 seasons. Congrats to Kwame Brown for collecting a paycheck from a NBA team over the past years.

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2. Hasheem Thabeet- No. 2 2009 NBA Draft

Many questioned the Memphis Grizzlies decision to draft Hasheem Thabeet. Coming out of Connecticut his senior season, he averaged 13.6 points and 11 rebounds a game, showing his upside to NBA teams. In his first two seasons in the league, Thabeet averaged 2.3 points and 2.7 rebounds that led him to being the highest draft pick to be sent down to the NBA’s Development League. Now in Oklahoma City, Thabeet is trying to find a spot in the Thunder’s rotation where his days could be numbered as a NBA player.

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1. Adam Morrison- No. 3 2006 NBA Draft

The player who was once considered the greatest college basketball player who has now became a never was. After he sobbed following a defeat by the UCLA Bruins in the NCAA Tournament, Adam Morrison was the third player selected in the 2006 NBA Draft by none other than Michael Jordan. The 6’8 forward was once considered the second coming of Larry Bird. Morrison has became the biggest disappointments by NBA standards, while officially being labeled a bust. The former National Co-Player of the Year was fortunate to be a part of the back to back championship team of the Los Angeles Lakers. However, nothing was the same for Morrison as he is now out of league.

Top 5 Most Disappointing Teams of the Early Season

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The start to the NBA season gives us an outlook on whats to come throughout this year. We have the opportunity to see familiar faces in new places with players and coaches for teams with aspirations of improving their success from the previous season. With that being said, here are your top five most disappointing teams thus far in the early part of the season.

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5. Denver Nuggets

      By not retaining the most recent recipient of the Coach of the Year award in George Karl, the Denver Nuggets decided to move forward by bringing in first season head coach Brian Shaw. Denver is more than capable of scoring the ball in bunches with Ty Lawson to lead the way as they are without Danilo Gallinari. Denver has had a slow start to their season as they opened the season with a three game losing streak and have lost big man Javale McGee who is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his lower leg. The challenge for Shaw this season is to get his players on the court to commit on the defensive side of the ball.

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4. Memphis Grizzlies

     The Memphis Grizzlies achieved historic franchise success last season by reaching the Western Conference Finals. This previous offseason, Memphis decided not to bring back head coach Lionel Hollins, instead choosing to go with assistant coach David Joerger. The Grizzlies remained subtle during free agency while we witnessed a west coast shuffle. With free agents coming and going, Memphis only decided to bring in sharp shooter Mike Miller to spread the floor with perimeter shooting and stretch out defenses. Memphis is off to 4-5 start in the 2013-14 campaign under Joerger that has many questioning if they can repeat the success of last season.

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3. Cleveland Cavaliers

     The Cleveland Cavaliers impressed many this offseason with the return of head coach Mike Brown and free agent acquisitions headlined by the signing of Andrew Bynum and Jarrett Jack as pieces to fit the puzzle of the supporting cast for Kyrie Irving. With a record of 4-7, things are not going well for Cleveland as recently there was a report of a confrontational meeting between players. It is a long season, so this team has an opportunity to turn matters around and get on the right track.

i2. Brooklyn Nets

    Many can make the argument that the Brooklyn Nets had the best offseason by adding Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to add to the roster of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. With the addition of newly retired and first year head coach Jason Kidd, the Nets look to have the best roster on paper to compete in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the new look team has done nothing that has impressed anybody. Injuries and age being problems to Brooklyn only presents Kidd with an uphill battle while overcoming a 3-6 start.

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1. New York Knicks

     After winning the Atlantic Division last season, many assume the New York Knicks can continue to progress in the Eastern Conference. However, many questioned the offseason moves made by New York after acquiring the former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani via trade. Bargnani adds to an already crowded frontcourt that contains Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Kenyon Martin. With a horrific 3-6 start to the season, the big apple has become rotten. A consistency of effort becomes the main problem for New York which can lead to head coach Mike Woodson’s job being in jeopardy. It can also lead to the departure of Carmelo Anthony out of New York.